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Old December 25, 2013, 11:18 AM   #1
BerdanSS
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Case cleaning ?s

My lovely wife got me this for Christmas,




And I have some questions. I'm just now starting down the road of reloading. Along with this, she also got me an RCBS single stage press for my Birthday a few weeks ago. My folks also got me some dies and a Nosler 7 loading manual, which I'm in the middle of reading cover to cover.

Now case prep is a point I'm a little weak on. What is the best cleaning media to use in this tumbler? The gentlemen who recommended this cleaner to her also set her up with a jug of lyman rouge treated crushed nutshell media. Should this be used dry? with polish?

Most of my casings are a 60/40 mix of brass and nickle colored. For now I'm mainly collecting Items to reload my most used cartridges, .44 mag/spcl and .45 colt.
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Old December 25, 2013, 11:40 AM   #2
gundog5
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Merry Christmas and nice gift. Your media is "treated" which means it already has polish added. Just fill your hopper about 3/4 full throw in the brass and turn on. I run mine for about 2 hours per load. When you decide it is time to restock (buy) more media for your tumbler, go to your local pet store and pick up #25 of walnut litter. Many on this site will recommend lizard litter, I don't care for it as for me it is to fine a crush. I use "KayTee" walnut pet bird litter. This stuff is great and course ground. It is about $25 for 25lbs and will last you a looong time. In addition as this media is not treated you will need to pick up some polish and add 2-3 cap fulls per load and run your machine for 15-20 minutes in order to mix the polish into the media before adding your cases. Again, Merry Christmas.
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Old December 25, 2013, 11:56 AM   #3
BerdanSS
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Thank you sir! Most helpful.

As it so happens I'm very familiar with both of those types of shell media....as I was for 5 years, the aquatics/reptile/avian manager at PetsMart

And I still use the kaytee sometimes for our Breaded Dragon enclosure (Less easy for them to accidentally ingest with food due to it's larger size)


What about the corn cob bedding? I have access to literal MOUNTAINS of 90% dust free crushed corn cob for next to nothing?
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Last edited by BerdanSS; December 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM.
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Old December 25, 2013, 12:05 PM   #4
Metal god
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I have that tumbler and it works just fine . I use corncob media and I use 2 different batch's . I have a first tumble batch which gets very dirty . After all case prep is done I use the second cleaner batch for final cleaning .

I recommend getting a universal de-capper and de-prime and clean primer pockets and necks of cases before you tumble . This will help keep the media cleaner longer . put in cut up used dryer sheets in with the media every 5th or so use to help keep the media clean .
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Old December 25, 2013, 12:12 PM   #5
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You're going to get a lot of opinions with this post. And that's a good thing, once you wade through them all.

I'm not directly familiar with your particular model of tumbler or the media used (although I believe the rouge media has been treated, so you don't need detergent. - as gundog5 stated).

I had three points to add, based on what I do know:

1) If you're tumbling 44Spl and 45 Colt together, make sure the 44 brass is too big to slide into the 45 brass (I don't load 45 Colt, so I can't check this). If it can, the 44 cases will slide into the 45 cases, and not get cleaned.

2) Tumble before you decap. Otherwise, you're media will get stuck in the flasholes and you'll need to pick them out - one piece of brass at a time.

3) I quarter used dryer sheets and put them into the media while tumbling. The sheets are more attractive to dirt, grime, spent powder, etc., and thus, they help keep the media clean. Discard and re-add after every tumble.

I went years without a case tumbler. I don't know what I was thinking. They're awesome.
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Old December 25, 2013, 12:13 PM   #6
Misssissippi Dave
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Walnut treated or otherwise will clean brass well. Corncob media will clean and polish the brass. It may take longer to clean them than it takes walnut. Additives can be added to both to make them work faster. Additives are not really needed but some prefer them. As to corncob media I prefer 20/40 and I get mine in 40 pound bags from Grainger. It is small enough to not get stuck in the cases. 40 pounds will last a very long time.

Getting any crud off the cases prior to loading is what you are looking for at a minimum. Making them look pretty or shining like a mirror isn't needed to make good ammo, but than again they are easier to find on the ground after shooting. If you are shooting from a revolver, finding your brass shouldn't be a problem. A lever action rifle might be different.
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Old December 25, 2013, 12:20 PM   #7
BerdanSS
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I plan on cleaning all calibers separate due to the amount of brass I have. All very helpful guys, thank you.

The corn cob media I have access to looks like this


I started wondering if the size of the granules is too large to be effective maybe?


DAVE.

I shoot both. the SAAs of course are great because I just shoot, then eject spent casings into a clean 5gal bucket. As you said, the lever actions are a completely different story. My rossi 44 shoots mag brass straight up in the air and I can usually catch it before it hits the ground with a slight move of my right hand. The 44 special, it slings what feels like a mile when your policing it up.
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One day, Men in tall hats will thump their chests and proclaim..."oh, what a great sea of mud we lived in"--The unalterable fate of billy creek ....
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Last edited by BerdanSS; December 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM.
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Old December 25, 2013, 12:21 PM   #8
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Hey BerdanSS,
Put me on your wifes Christmas list for next year too !
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Old December 25, 2013, 01:22 PM   #9
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I'll shoot down this side street (but from your original post...)

The Nosler 7 manual you were given is a quality book and I hope you have enjoyed it. Reading it fully -will- benefit you! However, the Nosler manuals are very, very, VERY much in a very hard lean toward the rifle handloader.

You would benefit from snagging another handloading manual that gives a much stronger nod toward handgun loading, too. The Lyman manual will do exactly that. The Hornady and Lee manuals are decent as well, and the Lee manual is probably the most cost effective.

For your tumbling operations: get a lamp timer, $4 to $6 or around there. Trust me on this one, the lamp timer is such an asset that they ought to be packaged together.
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Old December 25, 2013, 01:39 PM   #10
Merad
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I have that exact tumbler. Works quite nicely! I use walnut media sold for use as lizard bedding. I put in 4-5 drops of Brasso before adding any brass and let the tumbler run empty for a few seconds to distribute the Brasso through the media. Then add the brass and let it run for around 2 hours. It'll get the brass quite clean, although not quite to the point of the "shiney new brass" look you'll see from stainless tumblers.

Also second the idea of sorting brass and running different calibers separately. I've found out the hard way that cases of different calibers will find anyway possible to get stuck together - pistol cases on the necks of rifles cases, 9mm in particular loves to get stuck up inside of .40 and .45, etc.
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Old December 25, 2013, 07:27 PM   #11
Metal god
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Quote:
2) Tumble before you decap. Otherwise, you're media will get stuck in the flasholes
Yep this is true and maybe more with walnut then corncob . I do have to check each case for media stuck in the flash hole . There is some stuck in there about 1 in every 20 cases or so . Not a big issue for me because I'm inspecting the cases for defects , cracks and splits anyway . It is worth considering though . If your not up for the extras work then clean before you de-cap .
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Old December 25, 2013, 07:36 PM   #12
Sevens
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No, it's not even about the "extra work" of inspecting cases and removing stuck media from flash holes.

If you decap BEFORE tumbling, you are either using a decap-only die (and adding a whole extra step to your process) or you are using your size die with FILTY DIRTY brass, which is a horrendous thing to put your size die through.

If you get a piece of media stuck in your flash hole and you don't find it upon inspection and THEN run it in to your size die, there's a very good chance you'll either displace your decap rod (Lee dies, annoyance!) or you snap it clean off and need to replace the decap pin. (most others, RCBS is the most obvious)

If you get a piece of media stuck in a flash hole and you DON'T catch it with inspection and you DON'T catch it with your decap rod but it's still in there and it finds it's way back in the way of you getting a proper, normal burn from your primer, now you've possibly created a loaded round that simply won't perform as intended. Will it fire at all -- or worse, will it squib out because it didn't get a proper burn? What will that result be?

And all of these possible pitfalls, big and small, for WHAT?!
For a primer pocket that will not be cleaned by a typical vibratory tumbler even if you let it tumble for a solid week straight?

There are few answers as cut & dried as this one...

If you use a vibratory case cleaner with dry corn or walnut media, decapping before you tumble your brass is a lousy idea with zero benefit and only possible pitfalls.
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Old December 25, 2013, 09:25 PM   #13
Reloader2
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Case cleaning ?s

What are these dreaded pitfalls you speak of? I've been decapping before tumbling for many years and have yet to have any issues.
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Old December 25, 2013, 10:15 PM   #14
Metal god
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Yeah , what's the issue . After cleaning ,sizing , trimming you tumble again anyways to get lube and brass shavings off and out of the case . The media can get in the flash hole then . It's just been something I check everytime and thought it was just part of reloading . I never knew there was a way to dry tumble and never need to check the flash holes .

FWIW my primer pockets are like new when I'm ready to load the case . I use a RCBS pocket brush in my drill . Just one second on high RPM and they shine like a mirror . Same thing with the necks on my bottle neck cases .

I come home from the range de-cap ALL brass shot that day regardless of caliber . Zip - clean primer pockets , zip - clean necks then into the tumbler for a hour or so . Now they're ready to size .

Yes , I do more then some but not as much as others

EDIT just went back and looked at the OP and it seems he is only talking about hand gun cases . They will not need as much attention to detail as bottle neck target rounds . I only load bottle neck rifle cartidges so what I do may not be for you .
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Last edited by Metal god; December 25, 2013 at 10:25 PM.
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Old December 26, 2013, 11:17 PM   #15
marine6680
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I ultrasonic clean now... But thinking of getting a tumbler with large corn cob media to make the brass shiny.

I think that would be an ideal situation. I decap before cleaning in the ultrasonic. The brass would go into the tumbler clean, so the media would last a long time before it gets dirty. Less lead dust in the air as well. It would also help ensure the cases are dry. I use pure isopropyl alcohol to drive out the water used to rinse the cleaning solution, but it would still be nice to ensure full drying. I also use non-oil/petroleum based lube on my cases, so no need to tumble it off.

I am thinking smooth shiny lubed brass would size a bit better by reducing friction compared to unpolished...


From my understanding, media big enough to not stick in the flash hole isn't good at cleaning a primer pocket, but having the pocket clean ahead of time will prevent the need. An inspection is always needed after regardless.

If you can get the corn cob media for so cheap, it can't hurt to try it out and see how it works.
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Old December 26, 2013, 11:47 PM   #16
JimDandy
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I added that decap only with a universal decapping die step, and I don't mind at all. I happen to use the Stainless Steel media method in a Thumler's Model B. But this method cleans the primer pockets during tumbling, so I don't have to stick a tool in every pocket to flake out the fouling in them, and I lost something of a step, so I guess it washes.

To the OP:

You've got a nice tumbler. I'm impressed with Frankford Aresenal lately, they're adding more and more tertiary equipment with a nice touch to them. 350 .223 cases is fairly hefty size wise. My Thumler's loses a lot of capacity because of the water weight, I think I top out at about 150 or 200, I always have to look it up.
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Old December 27, 2013, 03:20 PM   #17
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Quote:
What are these dreaded pitfalls you speak of? I've been decapping before tumbling for many years and have yet to have any issues.
Very possible but some media is more prone than others. I would suggest staying with the media/s you have used thus far if you plan on de-priming first to stay on the safer side. Still any media can contain or produce a granule capable of plugging a flash hole. In the end I would still recommend de-prime after tumble.
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